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God's Spies
The Stasi's Cold War Espionage Campaign inside the Church
HARDCOVER; Published: 9/17/2019
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7525-9
Price: $ 25.99
288 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 5.5 x 8.5
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The real-life cloak-and-dagger story of how East Germany’s notorious spy agency infiltrated churches here and abroad

East Germany only existed for a short forty years, but in that time, the country’s secret police, the Stasi, developed a highly successful “church department” that—using persuasion rather than threats—managed to recruit an extraordinary stable of clergy spies. Pastors, professors, seminary students, and even bishops spied on colleagues, other Christians, and anyone else they could report about to their handlers in the Stasi.

Thanks to its pastor spies, the Church Department (official name: Department XX/4) knew exactly what was happening and being planned in the country’s predominantly Lutheran churches. Yet ultimately it failed in its mission: despite knowing virtually everything about East German Christians, the Stasi couldn’t prevent the church-led protests that erupted in 1989 and brought down the Berlin Wall.
Fred Kempe
— President of the Atlantic Council
“In God’s Spies, Elisabeth Braw delivers a page-turning, inside account of the East German intelligence service’s efforts to infiltrate and undermine the Lutheran Church. Featuring unique interviews with former Stasi spies involved in actions against the clergy and other members of the Church, God’s Spies is a must-read for anyone seeking a better understanding of the anatomy and the ultimate end of East Germany’s repressive regime. If you love real-life spy stories, Elisabeth’s book is for you.”

Jeffrey Gedmin
— Editor-in-Chief, The American Interest
“Elisabeth Braw brings to her work the engaging style of an outstanding journalist, the keen eye of a seasoned analyst, and both the critical distance and empathy of an observer/participant. A rare combination indeed! God’s Spies is about history, communism, and the never-ending struggle for freedom, integrity, and democracy—an important read for more reasons than one.”
Edward Lucas
— The Times
“In an account based on unique material from not only the victims, but also—a rare feat of reporting—from the perpetrators, Braw writes with insight and sympathy about the sinister work of East Germany’s Stasi secret police in its decades-long attempt to manipulate and exploit people’s most sacred and private personal beliefs. She explains how the persecutors succeeded in penetrating the protestant church to a far greater extent than was realized at the time, or even after the fall of the Berlin Wall. But the Stasi ultimately failed to dent the conscience and courage of the believers. Churches, pastors, and congregations were the catalysts in the popular uprising that brought down the grim rule of the Communist regime. Readers will be captivated by the humanity of the characters depicted, and the flaws and virtues they exhibit in the face of dilemmas, oppression, and temptation.”

Helmut Müller-Enbergs
— scientist of the Federal Commissioner for the STASI files and the Syddansk University in Denmark
“Elisabeth Braw succeeds in what only a few have succeeded in Germany so far: a look at a locked world of the spies of God and their puppet masters from the Ministry of State Security. She chooses small but precise snapshots, finds interlocutors who are for them, but otherwise, she has not spoken about herself and her operative work but has also received a refreshing narrative from her experienced pen, which her readers will also take with them.”
Mark Noll
— author of A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada
“Through personal conversations with former Stasi officials and extensive investigation of the voluminous files left behind by East German's security service, Elisabeth Braw has written a fascinating story. The combination of systemic organizational management, craven treachery, heroic courage, and the utterly banal routinization of spycraft makes for compelling reading, but also a memorable lesson concerning the complexities of human action in a surveillance regime.”
Robert A. Sirico
— President of The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty
“It is a testament to the power of religion that the East German Communist government expended so much energy monitoring thousands upon thousands of East German Christians, infiltrating the highest levels of the church. God’s Spies reads like of spy thriller because that is what it is—except that it is not fiction. It is as sad as it is inspiring. This account is as instructive to post-Communist society as a warning against state-sponsored compromise to religious liberty as it is to faith communities to protect their independence and their commitment to the gospel.”
Christianity Today
“From ground-breaking interviews and careful record-combing, Braw offers up new material for students of the [German Democratic Republic] era.”
The Englewood Review of Books
“For those history buffs who enjoy the occasional deep-dive into unexplored elements of history—including but not limited to those who donned holy robes and stepped into Father Confessor-like roles—Elizabeth Braw’s words will likely not disappoint.”